World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Amy Lowell

Amy Lawrence Lowell
Lowell at Sevenels, circa 1916
Born Amy Lawrence Lowell
(1874-02-09)February 9, 1874
Brookline, Massachusetts
Died May 12, 1925(1925-05-12) (aged 51)
Brookline, Massachusetts
Occupation Poet
Notable awards Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Amy Lawrence Lowell (February 9, 1874 – May 12, 1925) was an American poet of the imagist school from Brookline, Massachusetts, who posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926.

Contents

  • Personal life 1
  • Career 2
  • Altercation with F. Holland Day 3
  • Legacy 4
  • Works 5
    • Books 5.1
    • Criticism 5.2
    • Anthology 5.3
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Personal life

Lowell as a child
Lowell was born into Brookline's Lowell family, sister to astronomer Percival Lowell and Harvard president Abbott Lawrence Lowell.[1]

School was a source of considerable despair for the young Amy Lowell. She considered herself to be developing "masculine" and "ugly" features and she was a social outcast. She had a reputation among her classmates for being outspoken and opinionated.[2]

She never attended college because her family did not consider it proper for a woman to do so. She compensated for this lack with avid reading and near-obsessive book collecting. She lived as a socialite and travelled widely, turning to poetry in 1902 (age 28) after being inspired by a performance of Eleonora Duse in Europe.

Lowell was said to be lesbian, and in 1912 she and actress Ada Dwyer Russell were reputed to be lovers. Russell is reputed to be the subject of Lowell's more erotic works, most notably the love poems contained in 'Two Speak Together', a subsection of Pictures of the Floating World. The two women traveled to England together, where Lowell met Ezra Pound, who at once became a major influence and a major critic of her work. Pound considered Lowell's embrace of Imagism to be a kind of hijacking of the movement. Lowell has been linked romantically to writer Mercedes de Acosta, but the only evidence of any contact between them is a brief correspondence about a planned memorial for Duse. Lowell was a short but imposing figure who kept her hair in a bun and wore a pince-nez.

Lowell smoked cigars constantly, claiming that they lasted longer than cigarettes. She was associated with her cigar smoking habit publicly, since newspapers frequently mentioned it.[3] A glandular problem kept her perpetually overweight, so that poet Witter Bynner once said, in a cruel comment repeated by Ezra Pound and thereafter commonly misattributed to him, that she was a "hippopoetess."[4] Her admirers defended her, however, even after her death. One rebuttal was written by Heywood Broun in his obituary tribute to Amy. He wrote, "She was upon the surface of things a Lowell, a New Englander and a spinster. But inside everything was molten like the core of the earth... Given one more gram of emotion, Amy Lowell would have burst into flame and been consumed to cinders." [5]

Lowell died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1925, at the age of 51. The following year, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for What's O'Clock. That collection included the patriotic poem "Lilacs", which Louis Untermeyer said was the poem of hers he liked best.

Career

Her first published work appeared in 1910 in Atlantic Monthly. The first published collection of her poetry, A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass, appeared two years later, in 1912. An additional group of uncollected poems was added to the volume The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell, published in 1955 with an introduction by Louis Untermeyer, who considered himself her friend.

Though she sometimes wrote sonnets, Lowell was an early adherent to the "cadence has no absolute rules; it would not be 'free' if it had." [6]

Untermeyer writes that "[s]he was not only a disturber but an awakener."[7] In many poems, Lowell dispenses with line breaks, so that the work looks like prose on the page. This technique she labeled "polyphonic prose".[8]

Throughout her working life, Lowell was a promoter of both contemporary and historical poets. Her book Fir-Flower Poets was a poetical re-working of literal translations of the works of ancient Chinese poets, notably Li Tai-po (A.D. 701-762). Her writing also included critical works on French literature. At the time of her death, she was attempting to complete her two-volume biography of John Keats. Writing of Keats, Lowell said that "the stigma of oddness is the price a myopic world always exacts of genius."[9]

Lowell not only published her own work, but also that of other writers. According to Untermeyer, she "captured" the Imagist movement from Ezra Pound. Pound threatened to sue her for bringing out her three-volume series Some Imagist Poets, and thereafter derisively called the American Imagists the "Amygist" movement. Pound criticized her as not an imagist, but merely a rich woman who was able to financially assist the publication of imagist poetry. She said that Imagism was weak before she took it up, whereas others said it became weak after Pound's "exile" towards Vorticism.

Altercation with F. Holland Day

Lowell was frustrated in composing her biography of Keats by the famous publisher and photographer F. Holland Day. Day, alongside an unrivaled possession of Keatsiana, possessed exclusive copies of Fanny Brawne's letters to Keats. Fanny was the woman whom Keats had unsuccessfully pursued and the letters were therefore of considerable biographical interest. Lowell, who hoped to publish the definitive volume of biography, was forced to pursue a reluctant and rather mischievously reticent Day for these artifacts, with little success.

Legacy

Grave of Amy Lowell in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

In the post-women's movement in the 1970s and women's studies brought her back to light. According to Heywood Broun, however, Lowell personally argued against feminism.[10]

Additional sources of interest in Lowell today come from the anti-war sentiment of the oft-taught poem "Patterns"; her personification of inanimate objects, as in "The Green Bowl," and "The Red Lacquer Music Stand"; and her lesbian themes, including the love poems addressed to Ada Dwyer Russell in "Two Speak Together" and her poem "The Sisters", which addresses her female poetic predecessors.

Works

Books

  • ''Selected Poems of Amy Lowell'', ed. Melissa Bradshaw and Adrienne Munich, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002.
  • (The Riverside Press, Cambridge), 1955.

Criticism

Anthology

See also

Notes

  1. ^
  2. ^ Horace Gregory, Amy Lowell: Portrait of the Poet in her Own Time, Books for Libraries Press, Freeport, New York, 1958
  3. ^ Gregory, pg.96
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Lowes, Livingston John Conventions and Revolt in Poetry, 1919
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^

References

  • Amy Lowell, American Modern: Critical Essays, ed. Adrienne Munich and Melissa Bradshaw, New Brunswick, NJ:Rutgers University Press, 2004.
  • "Outselling the Modernisms of Men: Amy Lowell and the Art of Self-Commodification," Victorian Poetry Volume 38, No. 1 (Spring 2000), 141–169. [1]
  • Rollyson, Carl, Amy Lowell Anew: A Biography, Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, 2013. ISBN 978-1442223929.

External links

  • Works by Amy Lowell at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Amy Lowell at Internet Archive
  • Works by Amy Lowell at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
  • Poems by Amy Lowell and biography at Poetry Foundation
  • March 26, 1916, New York Times, How Does the New Poetry Differ from the Old?; Amy Lowell Laments the Lack of Authoritative Criticism in America -- Says No One Should Make a Living by Writing
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Owen D. Young
Cover of Time magazine
March 2, 1925
Succeeded by
Nicholas Longworth
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.